One of the simplest stories for a reporter to tell is “An important idiot did something stupid.” This can take the form of “Senator is caught taking bribes”, “Movie star gets arrested driving drunk” or even “religious leader says something offensive to people of other religions.”
1000 years from now, assuming we’re still here, we’ll have these same headlines, just with different people.
Since there will always be important idiots in our population, these stories, as a collective, are not news. They do not express a new trend in idiot behavior, nor do they offer context for how our view of the world should change because a particular important idiot did something stupid.
It is non-news masquerading as news. Unless it’s news that this person is capable of doing stupid things, it’s the telling of a story we already know.
If instead these stories expressed, for example, that there are now more incidences of a particular kind of idiot doing a particular idiotic thing, that might be newsworthy. That would inform us of a trend or change in the world at large we should know about, and hopefully take action on in some way. Or the report could explain what this persons peers or superiors are doing to prevent future idiocy. But to report on a singular instance of these things tells us little about the world we did not already know.
No matter how awesome any group of people is, you can always find someone doing something idiotic. No matter how awesome a government is, you can always find an idiot in it doing something stupid. No matter how peaceful a tribe or a nation is, you can always find an idiot in it committing acts of violence. A singular horrible or wonderful example does nothing to inform us unless the reporter does the work to put that event in context.
Non-news , news without context, is easy to generate. It takes less skill as a journalist to write these stories. Often these stories are more popular than better written stories about important things. The popular news is not the best news. The popular anything is rarely the best anything. The way we see the world is shaped by what is attractive and sells best, rather than what will give us a realistic perspective on the world and our place in it.
Whenever you read the news, or watch Fox or MSNBC, please keep the idiot theory in mind. If the arguing is all about what some idiot did, and how much of an idiot they were or were not, engage your better half and move along.
Related: I highly recommend the book Amusing Ourselves To Death to anyone who consumes news of any kind.